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We’re in the final hours of the 2012 Presidental Election, and while it may seem comics are far removed from the nitty-gritty of politics, they’re not. Many presidents past and present have stepped into comics, from Barack Obama in The Amazing Spider-Man to a time-traveling Teddy Roosevelt in Tales From the Bully Pulpit. But comics also home to a number of shocking (and sometimes shockingly good) commanders-in-chief for the good ol’ U.S. of A. We thought, given the time of year, to rack our brains and come up with the six craziest heads of state for these United States.
Lex Luthor: What do you do when you can’t beat Superman? You run for office, that’s what. Running on a platform of technological process via LexCorp, he started off relatively left-wing by banning fossil fuels. Luthor was P.O.T.U.S. in charge when the calamitous No Man’s Land event happened to Gotham City (which Batman later found was Luthor’s fault), and during his final days as president indirectly caused the destruction of Topeka, Kansas.
Gary “The Smiler” Callahan: Arguably the most sinister president in any comic, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s “The Smiler” from Transmetropolitan was equal parts outlandish and startlingly possible in the crazy once-every-four-year Presidential election cycle. When politicians run for president, they’re sometimes compared (unfavorably) to the Smiler, most recently being Democratic candidate John Edwards — even before his extramarital affair became public. In Transmetropolitan, Callahan comes into office as the lesser of two evils versus the incumbent (nicknamed ‘The Beast’), but is lately revealed to be even more demonic than his predecessor.
Doctor Doom: In 2012, a comic series featuring Doctor Doom forcibly becoming the president of the United States would be a sales hit; but back in the 1990s it was merely a last-ditch ploy to draw readers to Marvel’s faltering 2099 line. But boy, was it awesome. Done under the line-wide event title “One Nation Under Doom,” Ellis and an army of up-and-coming artists brought a Latverian brand of politics to the American heartland. Doom was a surprisingly good choice for the White House, lashing back at corporations that had snaked their way into power. Among Doom’s early initiatives were re-forming the long-dead S.H.I.E.L.D., putting the X-Men into a law-enforcement capacity and, best of all, making sure Ravage 2099 was never seen again in comics.
Prez: A creation by one-half of the duo behind Captain America, Joe Simon, DC’s Prez was a relatively hippie-esque take on teenage rebellion. The youthful Prez Rickard was propelled into office after the government lowered the eligibility age of president, and, as president, fought relatively new kinds of threats in the form of evil chess players, legless vampires and right-wing militias led by the great-grandchildren of America’s founding fathers.This 1973 anomaly has popped up on a few more recent occasions, once in The Dark Knight Returns but also in an excellent but overlooked one-shot by Ed Brubaker and Eric Shanower titled Prezs: Smells Like Teen President.
Margaret Valentine: While not as villainous or shocking as some of the others on our list, President Valentine in Y: The Last Man was unique in that she fell into the role after a mysterious plagues wipes out the entire male population of Earth (save one). Valentine shot up the ranks from secretary of agriculture thanks to the line of succession, and actually excelled in her role and won re-election as the U.S. (and Earth) came to terms with the new status quo. Hopefully we won’t have to go through a global plague to finally see a female U.S. president.
Captain America: The most recent entry on our, Ultimate Steve Rogers attained this position due in part to a rapidly declining world in the Ultimate books. In those desperate times, Cap is taking the commander-in-chief role more literally as a commander on the field rather than behind a desk.